Haiti 7.0. Japan 7.0. Chile 8.8. Taiwan 6.4.
Recent scores from the winter Olympics? Not exactly. These are all, of course, magnitude numbers from earthquakes in the past two months. The most recent one in Taiwan happened earlier today (March 4, 2010).
Northern Indiana rarely has earthquakes, the most recent one felt in South Bend happened in April of 2008. (See Earthquake hits Indiana, felt by thousands in Michiana on WNDU.com.)
What is going on with all the earthquakes lately? Are they a sign of the end times?
In Luke 21, Jesus instructs his disciple to be careful of rumors that he has come back. He tells them that the Jewish temple will be destroyed and that there will be wars, “great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences…” (verse 11 NKJV) Although the prophesy seems to be primarily about the destruction of the temple in 70 AD, some theologians see a double reference and say that great earthquakes will be a sign that Christ is about to return.
If this does apply to the return of Christ, is there evidence that earthquakes are increasing, or are we just hearing more about them in the news?
Earthquakes become newsworthy when they happen in or near populated areas. According to an article in USAToday, there is no evidence these four newsworthy quakes are related. According to a spokesperson for the U.S. Geological Survey, “We’ve had quite a few quakes in the past two months, but not more than average.”
The USGS website has a page devoted to the question “Are Earthquakes Really on the Increase?” Apparently they are asked that question continually. The answer is that we are able to locate more earthquakes than ever before because there are more reporting stations. The rapid distribution of news also adds to the feeling that earthquakes have increased.
However, the evidence is that the number of major earthquakes has “remained fairly constant.” Since 1900, there have been an average of 17 major earthquakes (magnitude 7.0 – 7.9) and one great earthquake (8.0 or above) each year.
So, if Luke 21 is correctly interpreted to mean that an increase in earthquakes will precede Christ’s return, this is apparently not what we’re seeing. God may not be signaling Christ’s return with these earthquakes, but perhaps he is trying to get our attention.
1 Kings 19 recounts how Elijah has been running for his life and has an encounter with God.
And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but] the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. (verses 11, 12 NKJV)
Sometimes God uses earth-moving events to get our attention so we will be quiet and listen to his voice. The event is not the message, but is often used to prepare us to hear the message. What God may be trying to say to you may be different than what he wants to say to your neighbor. Here are some suggestions of what God may be trying to convey.
- God wants you to be more generous. There are millions in need because of these earthquakes. Have you given of your resources to help?
- God may want you to gain perspective on life. How easily life can be taken away. Do you have your priorities right?
- God may be telling you to be grateful. Millions have had virtually everything taken away from them. Are you thankful for what you have?
What is God trying to tell you? If you would like to share how God has spoken to you through these earthquakes, please leave a comment below.
For more info: See these articles on WSBT.com about locals who have connections with the recent quakes.
Family with local connections shaken twice by earthquakes
Michiana residents safe in Chile
Cassopolis man owns restaurant in Santiago, speaks of his experience
Notre Dame reports students in Chile are OK